Evanston singer/songwriter, Rachel McClusky achieved what most other aspiring artists her age only dream of — the 17-year-old’s song, “Secret Crush,” is featured in Disney’s latest teen comedy, “Prom,” which hit theaters April 29.
McClusky said she got the deal through her father, Jeff McClusky, a Chicago-based music promoter and entrepreneur who has worked with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Madonna and Paul McCartney.
“My dad is in the music business, and he’s my manager,” McClusky said. “He and the president of Disney music started talking about my music and how I could get more involved with Disney, and they offered me the opportunity to write about prom.”
McClusky, who graduated high school early last November, said “Secret Crush” was the culmination of high school experiences with a boyfriend while secretly crushing on another guy.
“I wrote this song my freshman year in high school, and it was about this boyfriend I had and we were just kind of disconnected, but I still liked him,” she said. “And then there was this other guy, and we were so similar and I really liked him, but I didn’t want to let go of the boyfriend, so I had to keep it a secret crush.”
When McClusky first started talking to Disney music executives back in March, she was not always positive her song would make it into the movie. After being denied placement in the two scenes she applied for, she received good news just before the movie was wrapping up production, she said.
“They called me back like a week later and told me they found a spot for it,” McClusky said. “I was really grateful because it was about a week before the movie was actually going to be finished, so I felt really lucky to have that spot.”
Disney flew McClusky out to L.A. for the premiere of “Prom,” which took place April 21 at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood.
“It was a really great experience,” McClusky said. “I was so excited, I didn’t know where in the movie it (“Secret Crush”) was gonna be played, and so just hearing it when I was totally not even expecting it was just such an awesome experience. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the movie.”
McClusky describes her music as “pretty mainstream pop” and typical of what you would hear on the pop radio waves.
“I would say lyrically I’m similar to Taylor Swift where I like to write about love and relationships and family,” she said. “And then sound-wise, I would probably say I’m similar to Katy Perry.”
McClusky is currently working on her album, “Beleave Me,” set for release in June or July. She is also scheduling live shows, including one at the Cornerstone Festival on July 3 in Bushnell, Ill..
“I would love to become more involved with Disney as time goes on, but right now I’m trying to finish my album, and we’re pretty close to being done,” McClusky said. “We’re all really pumped about it.”